The cytotoxic conjugate of highly internalizing tetravalent antibody for targeting FGFR1-overproducing cancer cells.
Published on May 7, 2021in Molecular Medicine4.096
· DOI :10.1186/S10020-021-00306-2
BACKGROUND Antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) represent one of the most promising approaches in the current immuno-oncology research. The precise delivery of cytotoxic drugs to the cancer cells using ADCs specific for tumor-associated antigens enables sparing the healthy cells and thereby reduces unwanted side effects. Overexpression of fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) has been demonstrated in numerous tumors and thereby constitutes a convenient molecular target for selective cancer treatment. We have recently engineered tetravalent anti-FGFR1 antibody, T-Fc, and have demonstrated that it displays extremely efficient internalization into FGFR1 producing cells, a feature highly desirable in the ADC approach. We have revealed that T-Fc mediates clustering of FGFR1, largely enhancing the uptake of FGFR1-T-Fc complexes by induction of clathrin-independent endocytic routes. The aim of this study was to obtain highly internalizing cytotoxic conjugate of the T-Fc for specific delivery of drugs into FGFR1-positive cancer cells. METHODS Conjugation of the T-Fc to a cytotoxic payload, vcMMAE, was carried out via maleimide chemistry, yielding the T-Fc-vcMMAE. The specific binding of the T-Fc-vcMMAE conjugate to FGFR1 was confirmed in vitro with BLI technique. Confocal microscopy and flow cytometry were applied to determine FGFR1-dependence of the T-Fc-vcMMAE internalization. Western blot analyses of FGFR1-dependent signaling were conducted to assess the impact of the T-Fc-vcMMAE on FGFR1 activation and initiation of downstream signaling cascades. Finally, using FGFR1-negative and FGFR1-possitive cell lines, the cytotoxic potential of the T-Fc-vcMMAE was evaluated. RESULTS We have performed the efficient conjugation of the tetravalent engineered antibody with a cytotoxic drug and generated FGFR1-specific ADC molecule, T-Fc-vcMMAE. We have demonstrated that T-Fc-vcMMAE conjugate exhibits high selectivity and affinity for FGFR1, similarly to T-Fc. Furthermore, we have shown that T-Fc constitutes an effective drug delivery vehicle as T-Fc-vcMMAE was efficiently and selectively internalized by FGFR1-producing cells leading to their death. Interestingly, we show that the efficiency of the uptake of T-Fc-vcMMAE corresponds well with the cytotoxicity of the conjugate, but doesn't correlate with the FGFR1expression level. CONCLUSION Our results show that T-Fc-vcMMAE fulfills the key criteria for the successful cytotoxic drug carrier in a targeted approach against FGFR1-positive cancer cells. Furthermore, our data implicate that not solely expression level of the receptor, but rather its cellular trafficking should be taken into account for selection of suitable molecular targets and cancer models for successful ADC approach.